As we head into the holiday season, I am moved by the many reminders for all of us to support our communities – both small businesses that bring vitality to our neighborhoods and our neighbors in need. In this newsletter, I want to share with you an update on our pro-small business legislation that just passed its first vote and encourage folks to give back this holiday season.
One of my top priorities is ensuring our small businesses have the support they need and working to make DC the best place to do business in the region. My bill, the Business and Entrepreneurship Support to Thrive Act (the “BEST Act”) was marked up and had its first vote this week. The bill encourages entrepreneurship, lowers costs and regulation, and streamlines business licensing & renewal so it's easier to open and operate a business in DC.
The BEST Act sends a clear message that our city values the contributions of our small business community and takes an important step forward in removing barriers that have made it more difficult for women and people of color to own and operate a business in the nation’s capital. Starting a small business in the District should be straight forward, efficient, and cost effective. The reality is current licensing requirements are so convoluted that they discourage aspiring entrepreneurs. The BEST Act reduces the over 100 current licensing categories to just 11, eliminates endorsements, and reduces basic business license fees to $49 for a 6-month license and $99 for a 2-year license. The bill also waives licensing fees for businesses with under $10,000 in annual revenue.
I look forward to continuing my work with our small business community to ensure our city is hospitable and supporting innovation. You, too, can play a role in supporting our small businesses. This upcoming Saturday is Small Business Saturday so be sure to support your favorite local small businesses. I’ll be visiting the Downtown Holiday Market to do some shopping for gifts this holiday season. I hope to see some of you there or on Saturday evening at the City Center Tree Lighting!
This time of year is also the season of giving. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I encourage you check on a neighbor in need or give your time volunteering. My team and I recently visited Charlie’s Place to serve a meal to neighbors experiencing homelessness and I’ll share more about our visit in a special Thanksgiving message later this week. I wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and holiday season with friends and family!
Yours in Service,
On Friday, December 9th, I’ll be hosting another round of office hours in my office at the Wilson Building from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. My team and I have enjoyed welcoming neighbors to your Ward 2 office. You can sign-up for a meeting on December 9th here.
IN THE NEWS
Downtown Recovery: Councilmember Pinto’s Recovery Act bill has a hearing TODAY! You can watch here. You can still submit written testimony until noon on Monday November 28th here. The Recovery Act is targeted to support District residents, workers, and businesses with the goal of transforming our office corridors from solely commercial uses to a vibrant city core that includes mixed-use developments, affordable housing, and jobs and green space as a driver of growth. You can read more here.
DC leads the Nation: On November 15th, the Council unanimously passed Councilmember Pinto’s bill, the Period Equity Righting an Injustice of District Residents Act (Period Act). This bill requires the provision of free period products in District buildings and government operated spaces. Building on the successful passage of Councilmember Pinto's bill to provide period products in all DC schools, the PERIOD Act is poised to make a meaningful difference in the lives of District residents and visitors placing DC as a national leader on this globally important issue.
Revised Criminal Code Act Amendment: The Revised Criminal Code Act (RCCA) is a comprehensive review of the District of Columbia’s Criminal Code, revising penalties and modernizing criminal offenses for the first time since 1901. This is a historic once-in-a-century revision of our criminal code, which is the culmination of more than a decade and a half of research and collaboration among many experts and input from other stakeholders in our community. However, Councilmember Pinto remained concerned about the maximum allowable penalties for possession of a firearm, and introduced an amendment to increase the maximum so that penalties are more proportional with the criminal act and are in greater alignment with current sentencing practices. We cannot allow guns to continue to inflict physical and emotional trauma on District residents. Giving our judges the discretion to impose a higher sentence when the circumstances dictate is one tool we have to combat this scourge. Regrettably the amendment did not pass, however Councilmember Pinto will continue to work with her colleagues, the Mayor, the Office of the Attorney General, the US Attorney’s Office, our violence interruption teams. Revising the District’s criminal code will ensure that our criminal code is clear, fair, and just.
Judicial Vacancies: Councilmember Pinto authored a letter to U.S. Senate leadership urging the Senate to take action on eight judicial nominees that need a vote to be approved. Councilmember Pinto also lead a letter with her colleagues urging the White House to nominate more judges for Senate consideration. There are more than a dozen vacancies in DC Courts that need to be filled and Councilmember Pinto will continue to work on this urgent issue.
911 Operations: As a member of the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, Councilmember Pinto conducted oversight of the Office of Unified Communications, which operates our 9-1-1 call center and dispatch services. Councilmember Pinto asked Interim Director Karima Holmes to share updates on her team’s efforts to implement improvements to the 9-1-1 call center services as recommended by recent audits and to explain the source of many of the fateful shortcomings of the agency over the last several years. Councilmember Pinto will continue to press the agency and Director Holmes to implement steps identified in the audit to reduce dispatch times, improve training and oversight, and increase use of technological tools that improve location accuracy.
Mobile Voting: Expanding the right to vote is a core value of our city and our nation, and a value that Councilmember Pinto holds dearly. During her time on the Council, Councilmember Pinto has co-introduced legislation and voted to ensure that all District residents are mailed a ballot and voted to expand enfranchisement for District residents who are non-citizens. When voting rights are under attack around the country, Councilmember Pinto is proud of the steps that she and her colleagues have taken to make voting more accessible in DC. The mobile voting bill that Councilmember Pinto introduced aimed to do just that – make voting more accessible to more District residents many of whom are underrepresented in elections. Since introducing the bill, Councilmember Pinto has had many more conversations with residents and experts and her staff and has read additional reporting on the issue. At this time, mobile voting is not ripe to move forward as additional security protections are likely needed to be considered in the event the District does adopt a mobile voting option in the future. Councilmember Pinto will continue to work with her Council colleagues to ensure that voting is accessible and fair elections are held in the District.